IARC Update – Electronics Interface

In order to connect everything on the Emu, some form of electrical linkage must be made. A lot of project I’ve seen/worked on have either soldered components together (not easily adjustable) or used a breadboard (unwieldy). For something like my blimp, I needed something a little more customized… and minimized. I started off by designing a circuit board to be made on a stripboard, where copper tape connects rows of holes in one direction. I needed to connect the motors, servos, Arduino, and camera on the same power “rail,” but keep certain components switched as per competition rules. I also wanted to have a place to plug the motor ESC’s and servos into the Arduino’s PWM outputs, even though the Arduino would be positioned far away from the blimp’s frame (to minimize RF interference). I also wanted to reserve an option to run the wireless camera system from a separate 9V battery if 7.4V didn’t cut it. To that end, I made the power headers for the camera completed by a jumper.

I made heavy use of male and female headers so that almost all of my components could be removed from the blimp for transport or repairs if necessary. The Arduino is the only un-switched component on the board, as even if the blimp is on the ground, I ought to have a serial connection established.

On the back of the stripboard, I scratched away the copper along the bright blue lines to isolate contacts. Certain pin holes were bridged with a small piece of wire (ex. for going from the Arduino In to the adjacent Servo PWM pins). Sure, a custom printed circuit board would’ve been snazzy. It also would have been costly and excessive. So although this isn’t the “bare minimum” solution to connecting things on my blimp, I think it’s pretty good. After this project, I don’t think I’ll be afraid of soldering anymore…

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